Dells School District hires contractors for mass grading of new high school

April 10, 2019

The School District of Wisconsin Dells approved the mass grading bid package on April 1, the first of five scheduled bid packages for the new Wisconsin Dells High School, with bids coming in under allocated budget for the package by about $160,000. The total cost of the bids is about $2.021 million, while the budget portion allocated for mass grading is about $2.182 million.

Bids on the mass grading portion of the high school project include office trailers, site fencing, dumpster and waste services, portable restrooms, and earthwork. Earthwork, the largest portion of the bid package, is the process of moving soil and rock to prepare the topography of the site for later portions of construction.

The firms of Architectural Design Consultants, Inc., Plunkett-Raysich Architects, LLP, and CG Schmidt lead the project. Justin Johnson, project manager at CG Schmidt, presented the bids to the board after first detailing the bidding process.

CG Schmidt first puts together a bidders list in the form of a group of contractors for each specific category. Those contractors are identified by “mining” them of organizations the firm has worked with in the past, and from community engagement sessions. After Plunkett-Raysich and ADCI submit drawings, the firm breaks the package into work-category descriptions that detail each category available for bidding and what that category entails.

Once bids are submitted, CG Schmidt goes through the bids and looks for discrepancies. They then reach out to each bidder to review the package, by either visiting the potential contractor or bringing them into their office. During the review meeting, CG Schmidt and the potential contractor go through the bid “line by line,” but do not review pricing.

“However they choose to price it is their prerogative on how they want to go about the job,” Johnson said. “There can be difference in how (contractors) price different things… so there are discrepancies between the bids in pricing of certain items.”

After reviewing the packages with the potential contractors, the contractors have the option to correct, revise, or resubmit their packages with a final bid number.

Veit, a company out of the Milwaukee area, submitted the lowest bid for the earthwork portion of the package, at about $1.57 million. In receiving the contract, Veit outbid Meise Construction out of Sun Prairie and Gerke Excavating out of Tomah. Gerke recently won a contract from the City of Wisconsin Dells for the Superior/La Crosse St. project.

Johnson said that CG Schmidt has worked with Veit in the past, and the eagerness and ability of the company to “get to work” is impressive.

“Veit indicated they could begin work as early as next week… starting to put in the erosion control package,” Johnson said. “The city (Wisconsin Dells) has already given the green light.”

Other contractors hired include:

Pac Van, a nationwide company, submitted the low bid for office trailers at about $34,420. The bid is under the allocated budget of $35,000 for office trailers by about $580.

Federal Rent A Fence, a nationwide company, submitted the low bid for site fencing at $54,780. The bid is under the allocated budget of $26,606.

Waste Management, a nationwide company, submitted the low bid for dumpster and waste management service at $54,780. The bid is under the allocated budget of $55,000.

Pickett’s Septic, a Wisconsin Dells company, submitted a bid of $14,400 for portable restrooms. Burgess Portable, a Baraboo company, submitted the low bid of $14,330. Both bids are under the allocated budget of $20,000. The board decided to hire Pickett’s Septic, as the difference in bids was “only” $70 and Pickett’s is based in Wisconsin Dells.

“We want to take care of the locals if we can, so I’d rather go with Pickett’s,” board member John Campbell said. “We said we’d try to hire local when we can… and for $70 I’d rather stay local.”

Board member Jesse Weaver agreed, saying that Pickett’s might cost the district less over time if the district does not need a lot of portable restrooms, as Burgess Portable’s price is based on a sliding scale where each additional unit lowers the cost per unit.

Although Pickett’s Septic is the only local company that received a contract during the mass grading portion of the bid schedule, Johnson said it wasn’t because of lack of outreach to locals.

“We reached out to a fairly sizable group of earthwork contractors... (and) tried to target a lot of locals,” Johnson said. “For some of these contractors, moving 80 acres of dirt is too much for them… (and) they couldn’t handle the schedule we’re looking for.”

Johnson said that by separating the building and earthwork bid packages into different entities, they are able to break the contracts into smaller pieces. He said that outreach to local contractors is continuing, with meetings held in December and March, and “some of those contractors that said no to this package haven’t said no to that (building package).”

“On this first bid package things went quite well, coming in… under budget,” District Administrator Terry Slack said. “It’s a good way to start things with our first bid package.”